The both parts of the pre-season Pirelli test are finished. The next stage is Melbourne race, and there are only 13 days until the opening of the season-2019.
In Barcelona we saw a lot of interesting things, namely what the progress have the teams made during the winter break. So, let's sum up all results of teams and drivers.
The best time of the second test and absolute record of the whole testing belongs to Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. Today he set the 1.16:221 and run 110 laps. Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc was the fastest on the third day of test with the time 1.16:231.
However, despite the high speed, Scuderia Ferrari had a lot of technical issues almost every day of the second testing, that prevented them from showing even better results. On Wednesday Sebastian crashed the car due to the broken wheel, and on the final day the German’s car unpredictably stopped, due to the problems with the electrics it was impossible to return it to the track. The Ferrari rookie also was stopping on the track couple of times and interrupting his session, but anyway made very confident work with the new team.
Mercedes beat Ferrari in the number of laps. During testing, the team worked mainly with the hard compounds, but on Friday in the last hour of the session, Hamilton went on the C5 tyres and set the second time – 1.16:224, losing to Vettel only 0.003sec.
Mercedes didn’t show the stunning results in Barcelona, and also had some technical problems, for example, with oil leakage. Obviously, the team hasn’t shown all its strength, so the intrigue between the two leaders remains.
Red Bull also did a mixed job in the test. On the one hand, it seems that in terms of reliability, Honda engines look great, but due to the drivers’ errors the team failed to complete all the tasks. Pierre Gasly twice seriously crashed the car: on the first and second week, so today Max Verstappen had to complete test on the car with some details of the previous specifications. Moreover, on the last day of testing Red Bull had the problems with a transmission and the Dutchman didn't go to the track after a lunch break.
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg finished the pre-season test on the P5 with the time of 1.16:843. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo showed only 1.17:114.
The first week the team looked much faster until the leaders started to work with soft tyres. However, in the second week Renault drivers lost to the top-teams a second. So far, there is no feeling that Renault has been able to reduce the gap from the leaders. But according to Remi Taffin, engine technical director of Renault, the team have managed to achieve the “high” goals in the progress of the engine, and to complete all scheduled tasks for the offseason.
Toro Rosso starts the season with a debutant and a driver, who missed a year as a “current driver”. Therefore, the main goal of Toro Rosso in Barcelona was the work of Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon. The team shared the work between the drivers – the Russian worked with the settings and the balance of the car, and the Thai gained experience and run the laps. It seems the team is inspired before the start of the season. During the test, Toro Rosso didn’t face technical problems, which also confirms the reliability of Honda engines.
Alfa Romeo acted in the similar way, sharing the work between drivers. The first week of test Alfa Romeo was on the third place in number of running distance – after Mercedes and Ferrari, and the car proved to be very reliable. This week wasn’t so resultative. But the team positively assesses the results of the testing and their preparation for the season.
Last week Haas had only a few days without some problems, but the second week of testing was more resultative for the team. This week the hitch occurred only on Thursday, and the rest of the days the team wasn’t inferior to rivals in the number of laps. However, on Friday Magnussen again stopped on the track at the end of the day, causing the appearance of red flags.
McLaren has made obvious progress in speed and reliability of the car. McLaren drivers twice led the test protocol: Lando Norris set 1.17:709 on Tuesday, and Carlos Sainz – 1.17:144 on Wednesday. Moreover, McLaren is absolute leader in number of red flags – the team’s incidents five times caused appearance of red flags.
Racing Point threw all the forces to prepare a new aerodynamic for the stage in Melbourne. The team reduced the program, after a relatively small distance due to the lack of spare parts. In the second week of testing Racing Point was an outsider in the number of laps, and speed is clearly wasn’t enough, but the team is optimistic about updates, hoping for an increase in stability and downforce.
Pre-season test was the most difficult for Williams. The team almost didn’t participate in the first week of the testing. But second week was more progressive for Williams. The questions about the speed of the Williams cars are still open, but in terms of the reliability they look good. This week Robert Kubica managed to run 220 laps, and George Russel did 259 laps.